2020 Nissan Altima AWD Review: A Family Sedan That Loves The Snow

The 2020 Nissan Altima AWD on a snowy course. [Photos: TFLcar]

2020 Nissan Altima AWD – Comfort, safety and value 

The one vehicle I was hesitant to enjoy at the 2020 Redline Winter Driving Encounter was the 2020 Nissan Altima AWD. This event was loaded with challenging courses on thick snow amid harsh winter conditions. Journalists were set loose on several vehicles at this event to evaluate their AWD ability. I was concerned that the low-slung sedan with the continuously variable transmission (CVT) would have issues. 

I didn’t need to worry, as it turns out

Like the Nissan Rouge Sport SV AWD we tested at this driving event, the 2020 Nissan Altima SV AWD has Nissan’s “Intelligent All-Wheel Drive” system. Simply put, the system can send up to fifty-percent of the power to the rear wheels when needed. Otherwise, on the highway, it remains a FWD car. This system is seamless, fully automatic and quite efficient.

Our tested was rated at 24 mpg city and 30 mpg highway. 


Our 2020 Nissan Altima SV AWD comes standard with a 182 hp 2.5-liter four cylinder that makes 178 lb-ft. This engine struggles a bit for speed off the line, but passing power is not too shabby. On snow, the power is surprisingly smooth. Even with the traction control switched off (which is was most of the time – for fun) the power seamlessly went to the rear end when the driver pushes too hard. 

It’s not a sports car – but it handled quite well in all environments. The CVT is my least favorite transmission on Nissan products, but I have to admit, this transmission felt smooth and fairly quiet. The only issue is off-the-line punch, which is partially an engine power issue.


Snow and comfort 

On more than one occasion, I immersed the Altima in deep snow that would ruin a FWD/RWD car’s day. With proper cold weather tires on and its AWD system working overtime, I never got stuck. By the end of the day, I felt assured in all driving conditions. I never had any question that I could pull out of any scary traction situation. 

The Nissan Altima was one of the most comfortable vehicles at the event. Even on snow, it was quiet, composed and the seats are some of the best in class. Nissan has recently upped their game with nicer interior materials, better design and lots of intelligent tech – including their Safety Shield 360 which is standard. 

[Photo: Nissan]

Riding and simply sitting in the 2020 Nissan Altima was rewarding enough to make it popular for journalist who simply wanted to have a breather during the event. Even the back seats were comfortable with good head and legroom. 

The bottom line

Compared with the (non-turbo) Subaru Legacy and brand-new Toyota Camry AWD – the Altima AWD is not as powerful, but it provides an outstanding ride. It’s competitively priced too. Our 2020 Nissan Altima SV AWD has an MSRP if $32,495.